Post

I’ve had this notion in draft mode for about 9 months now, so I suppose it’s about time I pushed this baby out.

Nine months ago, I flippantly said to a friend,

I’m not doing that. I’m post-that.

I think it was the Silver Fox and I think he was suggesting we go to the gym…specifically so he could get into hiking shape for his then upcoming six-week shuffling through Europe trip.

Post-that.

It was a time in my life where I’d been scratching at the professional employment door for the better part of a year like an unwelcome cat.

I was mentally preparing myself for an upcoming summer of gorgeous PNW weather…and dreading the main outdoor physical activity available to me being cycling.

I thought about it for a bit and wondered what my motivation really was.

This old Groucho Marx quote:

I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member

It kept popping up in my mind and casually in conversation. It got to the point where I had to acknowledge it; aka: obsessively think about it.

Admittedly, I didn’t come up with the answer. I think ruminations like this evolve over time. What is important to get to – for me – was the core value that was anxiously raising its hand to say something just outside my figurative peripheral vision.

I’d been applying for jobs I wanted with companies I wanted to work for and maybe getting interviews, maybe not, definitely not getting hired.

When that didn’t work, I changed my focus and broadened my search to jobs with companies I didn’t necessarily want to work with, but knew I could meet the job expectations. Surprisingly, I got the same results. More surprisingly, I was offended at being rejected by companies I held in low regard.

It all reminded me of how true my dating/interviewing analogy has always been. The way you (should) put your best foot forward in either situation, learn about the “opportunity” and then mutually decide whether it’s a good match. Ideally, both parties reach the same decision.

<pause to glare at millennials>

Moving on.

But where do I move on to from there? That scenario – thanks to my own analogy – encompasses dating, too. There I was, kind of at the massive intersection of Work, Romance & Fitness Boulevards and I didn’t want to cross any of them.

Fortunately, I didn’t want to jump into traffic, either. I think that’s a good sign.

I really couldn’t tell if I was broken or protesting. It’s probably worth noting that this overlapped with my nine month haircut hiatus. My mother had gone from niggling at me to get a haircut to being envious of my natural hair flip to quietly telling me that my dad would like to see me get a haircut.

That last one kind of got to me and I started mentally preparing myself to face a haircut. It also got me thinking that maybe what motivated me to work was making my parents proud.

I kicked that one around for a bit.

Then I remembered that my parent’s pride in me seems innate, not earned. It was a realization that made me feel truly fortunate.

I’d written a book that literally dozens of people read.

My parents were proud of me.

I’d taken any job I could get – perhaps the only – just to get off my couch and do something.

My parents? Still proud.

So working professionally to please my parents wasn’t the answer.

Maybe I was asking the wrong figurative question, then?

I wandered back to dating. And quickly ran away from that notion. I’d have to be pretty self-loathing to expose myself to that group of people for answers. Because the answer to the collective question – What are you looking for? – for folks in the dating pool is not

Y’know, an old, out of shape dude who’s adrift and underemployed. Yeah, that’d be nice.

But what I did remember was my dating bar. I expected people I dated to enhance my happiness.

Not make me happy.

Certainly not erode my happiness.

That got me thinking that I should absolutely apply that same bar to my work life.

Then I remembered that I had and quit my last job because it was absolutely eroding my happiness.

And just like a shit boyfriend, behaved the same way when I pointed it out.

I had started this exercise where I’d admitted I didn’t know the answer. I was now at the point where I’d searched for an answer and not found one.

You know where that left me?

Fucking religion.

Can you believe that?

Who answers your prayers?

God?

I’d long ago put my faith in myself. Not god.

Then I’d spent a few decades letting people take it away from me.

Bosses.

Customers.

Boyfriends.

Maybe I should just reach out and take that faith back?

I mentioned earlier that I wrote a book that “no one” read.

Y’know what? That didn’t bug me.

I’d written a book!

That realization made me feel good.

Good about myself and that accomplishment that “few” achieve. Well, few people, but hundreds of monkeys – if you put them all in a room together with a typewriter.

But it also made me realize that there were people in my life urging me to do it for a decade.

Just a few.

Not even a gang.

They were never in the same room together and maybe only once crossed paths on the same Facebook thread.

But they were there.

Just like my parents.

Maybe the answer I was looking for was actually those few voices that spoke up but were drowned out by the constant droning white noise of everyone else.

I realized that those few voices were coming from the people I wanted to hear.

Needed to hear, honestly.

The sincere people in my life.

But I’d been conditioned to listen to the masses and their collective white noise voice.

That voice, however, was like the Great and All-Powerful Oz.

Big and loud, but behind it? Just a curtain hiding small, scared individuals.

I was over trying to get through to “them”, they didn’t listen, anyway. Without listening, there’s no conversation…just one-sided talk.

I decided I was over that.

Postthat.

Post screaming into a void and expecting an answer.

Job boards.

Dating apps.

Gyms with mirrors that reflected only negative extremes: what was perfect or what was imperfect.

Declaring myself post allowed me the luxury to do what I wanted for my own satisfaction, not to meet the expectations of an undefined group of faceless people.

To find my own satisfaction.

Hell, to first define satisfaction for myself and start there.

And in finding the faith in myself to set that bar, I felt empowered and optimistic…and it was sustained for the first time in years. But it makes me think that stripping it down to that level will allow me to arrive at a place where the definition I have for happiness overall is stronger than any I’ve had before. I’m not standing there asking some company or stranger-I’m-fucking-and-calling-it-dating for a sign off on my happiness.

I’m doing my own happiness; specifically giving my time to activities and people that enhance my work-in-progress happiness.

And you know what?

Now I want to do the things that I was post-doing before.

So, that’s a pretty good place to end up.

PS: my favorite Groucho quote? Well, since you didn’t ask…

Go read a book!

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Why I’m Single #20

Oops, I did it again.

News Flash: I’m apparently needy…

While out having a little solo misadventure, I gently hit on a guy. I’d just seen a movie and stopped on the way home for a Pallet Jack at Kelly’s Olympian. Really, I was just being nice, offering him a drink.

He declined, but we made polite conversation as we sat a barstool apart.

I learned that he’d just moved here two months ago – you know how I love those fresh arrivals – from Arizona. I mentioned my parents are visiting there now, which made him chuckle. When I asked why, he told me that the jokes about snowbirds and basically old people in general are no joke.

He is still looking for a good fitting job. He’s in his second home since moving up here, the first place just wasn’t a good fit. His housemate at the new place is a much more comfortable fit, personality-wise.

Anyway, he finished his drink and left. Then he came back a few minutes later and handed me a note and quickly scampered off. It basically said that he wasn’t sure whether I had been flirting with him or not, the dangers of being me. Although we weren’t in a gay bar, so I get his caution. But the note had his number and told me to text him if I had been.

Because I still got a little game.

It was way better than that time I used a cheesy pick up line on a guy at The Cuff.

How does it feel to be the best looking guy in this dump?

It was a slow night. There was only six people there and the dance bar and patio weren’t even open. Usually, there were a lot more ugly people there.

Or the time I shamelessly hit on a friend of D-Slice at one of her Free Drink Friday gatherings. I mean, that’s just bad form…hitting on your friend’s friends.

Isn’t it?

But we were talking and he had the most beautiful smile. Absolutely radiant!

It was quite beyond my control.

Even worse is the time I’m cruising down the street with my top down and see a good looking guy getting into a car, honk, yell “woo-hoo!” and it ends up actually being my neighbor.

See? That last one was just bad game altogether! But it was like 15 years ago or so.

So what’s the big deal? What did I do again? Why am I needy?

(At least what am I needy about now?)

The first three guys were all FTM trans folk. That last example was my lesbian neighbor.

I’m sure I’ve inadvertently made passes at even more trans people that went nowhere and they either never mentioned it or I never got to know them well enough to learn that information.

But what I know about myself is that I want the heart I desire to be attached to the plumbing I recreationally enjoy.

Hopefully all that says about me is that I’m simply not the Kinsey Six everyone would imagine me to be…worst-case, I’m just a Five. If it makes me out to appear transphobic, well, I would hope it doesn’t.

But, am I? Are genitals shallow to the degree of being superficial in love? Am I misdefining what I’m looking for in my love life and conflagrating (Made Up Word Alert!) it with a sex life?

Either way, I’m striking out.

But at least my pick up game has gotten smoother as we’ve traveled forward in time.

Why I’m Single #20

The Haircut Saga

If you can even begin to understand what it’s like to be me for just the shortest of moments, it won’t surprise you to hear that in November I left my barbershop thinking,

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

It was the second time since I considered recreationally growing my hair longer that I’ve walked into Bishop’s in the Pearl with the intent of getting cleaned up around the edges and walk out with a haircut that was basically ready for junior high school picture day.
My goal in my mission to recreationally grow out my hair – into what I call crazy old man hair – was something like a low key version of this:img_3453
What I really meant by stating my goal to grow out my hair was just to openly defy the current hair style conventions of that ridiculous hard part haircut. You know, this one…img_0516
Hard part? More like hard pass!
And I’ve had the same haircut, essentially, for the last 10-15 years, so something of a change was in order…just not what I considered to be the current incarnation of The Big Gay Haircut. Going longer was my only safe bet.
Except…
Not so fast, old Xtopher.
In late September, I walked into Bishop’s, told my gal what I wanted and walked out with this:
img_3454
Fine.
I grow it out a little, about seven weeks, and then go back toward the end of November for my holiday haircut in late November. Gotta make myself respectable for my visit to mom and dad! I make myself very clear that I only want it cleaned up over the ears, not blended all the way up since I want to grow it longer.
“Got it”, she says.

Flash forward twenty minutes…
img_3454

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

I leave thinking that I’ll give it until the end of January. Maybe if I need to cave for something important – like an interview – I will, but otherwise, it’s not like I’m doing anything with my time…so this can be my lil hobby.
Toward the end of January – my birthday – I ask the Silver Fox if I should be thinking about getting a haircut. I hadn’t heard from my family about birthday plans, so I was beginning to suspect something. If my family is planning something, I figure I should mow the shag a bit to look presentable.
“Your family isn’t planning anything”, he says.
Fine. No worries.
“But I’d get a haircut if I were you!” he laughs.
Of course, I reasonably assume that he’s taking a chance to return some of my snark and take it in stride.
He wasn’t.
img_1108
Great. Now he can keep a secret.
Not to worry, I think I pulled the shaggy look off…
img_1342
Notice how the longer hair distracts from my growing girth?
Anyway…lesson learned. I had said I was giving it until the end of January and here it was, the 21st. I figured I could see this through the final ten days and then hit Bishop’s and see if they’ve learned any new listening skills.
The Fox and I head up to Trader Joe’s later that week – he usually lets me tag along so that I don’t have to hoof it 20 blocks with my groceries – read: a half case of wine – which I certainly appreciate. On our way back, we pass right by Bishop’s and I’m looking in and thinking that it figures they aren’t crowded now, but just watch…when I want my hair cut it’ll be like the week before picture week. Then I see it.
Oops. Him.
This guy that I used to…socialize with, privately, if you get my drift, when I first moved back to Portland. He was a complete and utter mess. I’d cut ties with him by the end of that first year back in town.
Of course, the next year, he turns up at a happy hour with Linda Belcher. She had invited me down to Old Town to grab a couple drinks with her common-law husband, Bob’s Burgers, and some of his acupuncture co-horts.
This guy shows up. Mostly because this is my life and this is just what one should expect when one is me. Also because he was engaged to a classmate of Bob’s Burgers.
F.
M.
L.
I learn that he’s in the Hair Program at Paul Mitchell over across Burnside. I’m actually surprised that I don’t see him more often, since I pass by there every time I go to the bank or movies…surprised, but grateful.
A year or so later, I do finally end up seeing him outside. “Long program”, I think to myself, but I’m on the far side of the street, so he doesn’t see me.
Maybe another year later, I see him again and wonder if he’s teaching there, but just assume they are smart enough to not let that happen.
So, here I am, less than ten days away from a haircut and I see him on a smoke break outside. Finally working after taking the better part of three years to graduate from what I gather is a seven or eight month program. My friend, JOrtis is a teacher at the Aveda institute and I just figured, why not ask how long the program should take. I think he said months…but knowing this mess, I could see him spacing out a seven or eight week program with a few trips to rehab.
Nonetheless, it explains something about my last two trips into Bishop’s for a haircut.
Turns out my petulant departure in November contained some pretty true words.
So, here it is, the first week of February and I’m thinking, “Well, it’s not like I’m still not doing anything…oh, wait”, but I’m still not really putting any emphasis on my hair maintenance.
The Fox says that he’s getting used to it, which I somehow gamely twist into a compliment.
And…since this is my life we’re talking about, I get an in person interview.

Screw it. This interview process started in November. If they ask, I’ll tell them that I am not getting a haircut until they offer me a job out of protest.

So, if The Great Job Hunt finally comes through and I get the job, I’ll trim this shituation up, otherwise, this is what they get. Until then…img_3453

Whatever I decide to do with this shaggy mane, the…let’s say lucky barber will have plenty of material to work with!

The Haircut Saga

Gods And Monsters

The May/December dynamic is hardly unique to gay culture.

<looking at you Catherine ZJ and Michael D>

Star Trek even gave it a glance in The Next Generation as Wesley whored his way through his teens and most of the male crew memb…wait, that didn’t happen on the show.

I got confused…I’m old.

No, it was in the episode The Best of Both Worlds when Admiral Hanson brings his protege, Commander Shelby, aboard on the way to investigate a missing colony.

Captain Picard witnesses the dynamic between the elder officer and his female subordinate. To their credit, the writers not only created a strong female character in Shelby that didn’t define herself by a relationship, they also made the Admiral self-aware enough to give an honest assessment of his situation when asked by Picard.

Just an old man’s fantasy.

Boy. Little did I know then…but as this will end up being my birthday post, what better time to dust off this three month old notion?

Back around the beginning of November, I caught an old art house flick I’d seen in 1998. Literally, in an art house movie theater. Gay cinema was still struggling somewhere between taboo and mainstream.

The movie? Gods and Monsters.

Somehow, they managed to corral a stellar cast to tell the story of the last days of golden era director James Whale – played by Ian McKellan. He created the Frankenstein movie and the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein while living as a closeted homosexual.

Whale’s housekeeper – Lynn Redgrave – hires a new yardman – Brendan Fraser – that catches Whale’s fancy, despite the gardener’s obvious heterosexual nature. The film explores that relationship, pretty baldly, too. There were moments viewing it at 30 that made me cringe as a young man who had suffered overt advances from older men. The film did not shy away from those clumsy, vague advances viewed through the 1930s mindset of an older man with a modestly lascivious gleam in his eye.

It was hard to watch then, providing a certain ew factor based on my experiences. It was still hard to watch now that the movie is of legal drinking age.

Obviously, I’m not one to judge an older/younger romance. But it was hard to watch from a couch that is fortunately situated in a much more tolerant era.

My gaydar is fairly well tuned. That, paired with gay men feeling comfortable enough to express themselves freely without policing either their naturally fey tendencies, flamboyant behaviors or even their wardrobes, makes it a fairly comfortable environment for me to appreciate men I find attractive without fear for my physical well-being. Those same factors have made straight men much more secure in their own sexuality, largely reducing their fear or discomfort when a gay man hits on them.

Not eliminating the fear, entirely, sadly…but there’s a topic for another time.

But this isn’t about old Hollywood pool parties or an analysis of why older men chase younger men.

Their lost youth, duh.

It’s about the lasting impacts of those inter generational gay/straight friendships.

I might even say it’s more about how people come into your lives for a reason.

Sure, James Whale might have thought his yard man, Clay, came into his life simply as a distraction from his failing health at first. Or, you know…to cut his grass. But as their relationship evolved, Fraser’s gardener provided more than “just an old man’s fantasy”. Ultimately, he inspired McKellan’s Whale – don’t make that dirty, Diezel – to live during his final weeks of life. Of course, Whale then tried to manipulate him into killing him in a “gay panic”. But at the end of the movie, maybe a decade after Whales’ death, we see the lasting fingerprint Whale left on his yardman as he watches one of Whales’ movies with his own son.

Clay – the gardener’s name – learned some tolerance and empathy from his exposure to someone different than himself. Not just any old man, either.

A gay, old man.

I think that double-whammy of diversity was too hard to sweep aside and it made Clay pay attention to Whale versus just looking through him. Even if he wasn’t immediately aware of what was happening in the moment. Later, it made him a better father and a better steward of future generations.

Noticing that the second time I watched the movie made me appreciate what we take away from the people who cross our paths.

<Cue up some John Lennon music…>

We can all use a little more awareness and empathy in our day to day encounters – random or not. Imagine a world, a country, a state, city or block where we could see that awareness and empathy in action.

It’s a not infrequent theme in my blog, human decency. Random kindnesses. Living with intention.

Holding doors for one another.

Making eye contact with people on the street, saying “hi” as you pass.

Little things.

I do them, even though I’m a self-professed grumpopatomus. Think of how unbearably chipper I’d be if someone thanked me for holding a door or smiled or just said “hi” back.

That’s a world I can imagine. I’d just rather see it.

And so, while I sometimes feel like a dirty, old man when a younger guy catches my eye, my motivation is nothing, at worst. At best, it’s to consciously leave them better than I found them. Whale’s presence in Clay’s life may have had unintentional benefits; I’d prefer mine are more direct impacts.

I think with American culture in general, each of us being aware of the legacy we leave younger generations with would be a positive for the future. But I think gay culture in particular would benefit from not being blind to what other generations have to offer our own, and vice versa.

Gay culture lacks a generational continuity. A handoff of knowledge and norms from one generation to the next. AIDS…whaddyagunnado? But instead of walking away from that cultural canyon, we should work toward filling it in to create a cultural continuity.

I was reminded of this the other day when I watched The Assassination of Gianni Versace. There’s gay guys that can legally drink that don’t know the shock and horror of that random crime any more than they know the fear of living your true life in the open.

All these people, with no idea of the cultural importance of Versace’s work or the significance of a gay hustler executing an older, wealthy gay man.

The sad thing is that they blithely post about “living their best life” on social media with an insipid or ironic – god, I hope it’s ironic – pic of some frivolous thing like a venti gourmet coffee or expensive pair of shoes.

The irony to that “best life” is that many more young men enter into exploitative situations with older men to finance those “best lives”…strictly in a tit-for-tat (or cash-for-ass) basis. Sometimes that transaction is strictly through social media, but more and more men are turning to escorting to finance their best life. Bragging as they do that one sugar daddy isn’t enough.

Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them, right?

I guess, culturally, that means we’ve got a bunch of little Cunanans – thankfully only in the escort way, not the spree killer way – running around without even knowing it. Ryan Murphy to the rescue…

But that’s the type of culturally defining story that we lose not just with a missing generation, but also because of the accepted reality of generational isolation. It shouldn’t take a TV show to educate an entire culture across generations.

But it does, sadly.

I was talking with Sallory months and months ago about this phenomenon. We were talking about how valuable generational influence is, whether it’s friendship or romance based. The gist of the conversation – which started as a “What is wrong with younger people these days?!?” type of thing – was that so many kids come up with a lack of adult or parental influence. People work. I know. But the benefit of older/younger relationships is a better filling in of that gap.

As funny as it sounds, it really does benefit younger generations to hear someone say, “When I was a kid…”

I’m definitely here to say that and I have people in my life that want to hear it. Friends and when I’m lucky, lovers.

Of course, in my case, the movie would be made as Cads And Monsters – given that old gay men are not gods. But the lost boys I let distract me are still certainly lil monsters in their own right. But hopefully having an older friend or boyfriend helps tame them.

Gods And Monsters

The Most Awkward Three-Way Ever

This just in from the Department of Awkward!

Ok, maybe it was a few weeks back…

It was the Second Last Hurrah before my diet began*. I was on my way to a solo movie and Chipotle date to carpet bomb my remaining cravings into submission. The First Last Hurrah had been some Pallet Jacks with the Silver Fox at the Big Legrowlski. They were nice and tasty, but three got the better of my judgment and after watching a couple episodes of Lucifer on Netflix, the devil got the best of me and I went to check out the new location of Portland’s oldest gay strip club.

Did ya follow that?

Silverado got booted off of Vaseline Alley – aka: Stark Street – quite a few years ago and made an inexplicable move from NW Portland to SW Portland. We’re talking a move of about 10 blocks, but suddenly their only gay bar neighbor was Casey’s, one of three tied for the worst gay bar in Portland**.

It seemed like a bad move.

But, they made a go of it. Even after their adjacent lousy gay bar neighbor went tits up. That persistent success is saying something, considering I usually wanted to wear a HazMat suit when I went there, yet here were these brave (read: desperate) young, gay men stripping.

Then, last year, they lost their lease. I can’t imagine – based on the above description of Cootieville – that the landlord thought they’d be able to get more for the property. But, that’s Portland real estate.

I figured I owed the new digs – three blocks from my place – a peek. Ironically, 20-ish years ago, this building was the first incarnation of Casey’s. I’ll let you all hashtag that ironic occurrence on your own.

So, the new space had a pedigree…I’m just not saying it was a good one.

The First Last Hurrah

Like I said, boredom and a few beers got the better of my judgment, so I took a lil stroll to check out the new place. It was clean. For another refreshing change of pace, it has bathrooms a respectable woman would at least hover in. They might even sit…

I didn’t recognize the bartender and wondered if some/all of the staff had been left behind in the old place. After ordering a beer, I took in the other half-dozen late night patrons, all gathered around the bar.

I took my beer and surveyed the rest of the ground floor. Big kitchen – that’s an upgrade. Some weird private tables tucked into structural grottos. They aren’t private as in private dances, as far as I could tell, they were actual 4-tops.

Besides, the only other thing upstairs was a karaoke set up. I flashed a quick look at those bellied up to the bar to make sure none of them had any aspirations. I think if I wanted bad entertainment, I could have stayed home, right?

I decided to check out the lower level, but only because it was 9:30-ish and the shows didn’t start until 10. It was small and had a low ceiling and a tiny stage. Definitely different than the old joint, where there was a huge stage that usually had two guys dancing and climbing around the large structural support pole. It was an atypical pole dancing set up. Guys usually did a mid-dance workout on it.

There’d be no workouts on this little stage.

There was a second bar downstairs, though. Someone knows their audience.

Yawn.

I’d taken a couple of sips of my beer and decided it was not the IPA that I’d asked for – at best it was a mass market lager. I went back upstairs and asked the bartender to redraw it for me. Hoping he just pulled the wrong beer.

My neighbor at the bar decided to get chatty while the underwear clad bartender demonstrated his displeasure at my request with his pace.

My new friend asked where I lived and – I don’t know why – I suggestively whispered that I lived right around the corner. Then I asked where he lived as the bartender placed my new beer in front of me.

Oh, I live out in southeast. I was just over here for dinner with friends.

“Don’t drink to much!”, I offered cheerfully before grabbing my drink and spinning away from the bar.

I half-suspected that the bartender had served me a spitter, he looked pretty smug when he put it in front of me. I tipped him anyway, but I wasn’t about to sip it in front if him.

I ended up at the lottery machines by the door, having likely alienated the “crowd” and the staff. I didn’t have a ton of cash on me or in reality, but I figured I could lose $20 while I drank my beer with my back to the bar.

I won $50.

Fine.

I’ll play this down to $50 and call it a night.

At $52 and change, I won a little under $100. I was slightly annoyed because my beer still tasted like shit.

Fine. I’ll play it down to $100, then.

Overall, I like problems like this…and then the lottery went down. Machine by machine…they were just powering down, heading right toward me.

I scrabbled to quit my game and cash out. Unfortunately, the blackout hit my machine before I could…fortunately, it auto-printed a cash out ticket.

I went to the bar and sat down with my beer.

How is it?

I was surprised the bartender cared, but he’d been nearby dropping off a cocktail for a new arrival a couple barstools away. I just wrinkled my nose and shook my head.

Well, what do you want me to do about it?!?

I was surprised by the escalation in his voice. I waved my cash out ticket at him and asked if his side of the lottery was working. He said no, so I pushed my beer across the bar, said, “Tell someone, that’s what I want you to do about it because I think your lines are crossed”, and left.

Sheesh. If he’s gonna be a snowflake…

The Second Last Hurrah

Of course this would happen to me. I’m all greased up and ready to start a diet the following day and the universe conspires to make me go back to a bar to pick up a lottery win. I debated waiting, but it was over $100 and, frankly, it would come in handy.

Because this is an old school Portland dive, they open early. I think it’s 9 AM, if you can believe that! 11 AM, at the latest. I booted around the house until noon, knowing that if I went, I’d probably have a beer…assuming they had bottles, that is.

But I really didn’t want a beer.

I kind of started obsessing about drinking a beer.

But I really didn’t want a beer!

I think it was a distraction technique, but I figured if I was on my way somewhere when I stopped in for my money, I couldn’t hang around.

Since I was picking up cash, I decided to be on my way to a movie. Great. Now I had a plan. The movie was at 4:15, so I’d leave at 3:45, cash in my ticket and be at the theater by 4:05.

What could possibly go wrong?!?

Well, plenty…this is my life, here.

I started thinking about popcorn. The voice in my head was whispering that I had extra money, go mad!

No, my last meal should be something halfway good. If I was going to limp into a diet, movie theater popcorn wasn’t going to be the last thing I ate.

I’m not even sure where the voice in my head came up with that idea.

I was writing, so I didn’t want to tank my momentum by going out for lunch. I decided to make a post movie stop at Chipotle on my way home.

That’s a fair compromise.

I’m starving when I get to Silverado. I walk in and am greeted with an overly chipper

Well, hello there, Handsome!

Great. It’s the bartender that always hits on me.

Every.

Damn.

Time.

I’d first met him at another bar, when we were both on the drinking side. He was with friends and he’d left them to come sit by me. Well, on me, actually. On a barstool.

How we didn’t end up on the floor, I dunno.

He ends up giving me his number and going back to his friends. Over the next few days, we text, but can’t schedule a meet up.

He’s the busy one. When I point that out and thank him for the attention, he throws

It’ll be easier next week, there’s just so much to do before the wedding.

Knowing nothing of a wedding, I ask who’s getting married.

Me, silly! Didn’t I tell you?

“Must’ve slipped your mind. But I’m glad it came out, I’m not what’s missing in your relationship.”

Now, you’d think that would send a pretty clear message. For whatever reason, I don’t see him for over a year after this. The next time I walk into his bar, though, he scampers out from behind the bar and gives me a big hug.

He’s wearing a jock strap.

For the love of…I’m only a man!

You never call! Where have you been?!? We need to get together!

I have a couple beers and then leave, thinking nothing of it, really. Bartenders hitting on me has lost its luster.

You left without saying goodbye!

I usually pay cash in bars. I didn’t reintroduce myself and only remembered his name when another patron used it to get his attention.

He remembered my name from two years ago and hadn’t purged me from his contacts list?!?

Alright, I can indulge this attention. When he asked why we never got together originally, I reminded him that he’d gotten married and said…something vague about being sorry it didn’t work out.

Oh, we’re still married! We’re just open. It’s no big deal.

How do you remember my name but not that I’m not willing to be someone’s side piece? I remind him.

You’re gonna pass this up just because I’m married?

He asked playfully, but as I was replying I get this…nope, never mind, it’s too graphic a pic to post.

I replied that I was, indeed, able to resist and bid him farewell.

But, phew. The only thing this kid has going against him is that he’s married.

The mere memory deserves another phew!

Nowadays when I see him, he greets me and calls me Handsome, but doesn’t overtly hit on me any more.

Anyway, he’s getting my cash for me and I’m waiting at the bar when someone beside me says

Well, look what the cat dragged in!

Sitting right next to me is The Stripper. I think I only missed the fact that it was him because he was sitting like a customer at the bar, wearing clothes and everything!

I swore that I wrote about him in one of my Dating Into Oblivion posts, but can’t find it now.

Here’s the shorthand:

I may be over bartender’s hitting on me at this point in my life. Believe it or not, though, I still fell for the same trick last year when a stripper grabbed my phone and texted himself, then saved the number.

That’s my real name. Gotta go dance, but you better call me!

He’d been chatting with me for about an hour, refusing both my offer of a drink and deflecting the attention of other guys. He had introduced himself as Jett and was surprisingly articulate. This, partnered with not accepting my offer to buy him an overpriced stripper’s drink – which is usually just something like cranberry juice and soda for $8 – made me think maybe.

Maybe he actually liked me.

Maybe he wasn’t just trying to lure me down for $20 lap dances on his slow nights…

He was, I guess. He never committed to my offers to get together. To his credit, he never asked me to come see him, either. Nonetheless, after a couple of weeks, I stopped replying.

I slow blinked and muttered something under my breath and then turned to say hi.

I could feel my cheeks flushing red.

Are you sticking around? I’ve got a double today, starting in about 15 minutes!

“Nope. Just stopped in on my way to a movie to cash that in”, I say, nodding at The Bartender.

You should let me show you around before you go!

He’s super friendly, which I want to think is just him being nice. The Bartender comes back and starts counting my winnings to me and I can feel pressure building up behind my eyes.

“I was down there last night. Small.”

Yeah, I bet you can touch the ceiling! It’s small, but I like it.

And I swear to god, with those last words, he looked right at my crotch.

I feel like I’m thirty seconds from completely unspooling between these two sexy, frustrating men. I make my goodbyes, barely even able to imagine touching the ceiling downstairs while Jett touches the floor.

Pushing my way into the waning daylight, I hit the bricks thinking, “Fuck it, I’m getting popcorn!”

Seriously, only I could get stuck between two feuding flirts and come away feeling like I’d done something wrong.

But movie theater popcorn and Chipotle made me feel much better about it.

* It didn’t

** All polling data is based on my own experiences and extremely subjective. That doesn’t make it inaccurate…

The Most Awkward Three-Way Ever

Dating Into Oblivion: Fin

Welp, I just deleted a draft called Dating Into Oblivion ep6. The only note I had in my draft was

Who was this bachelor? I know it happened…

…which is a bad sign on the surface. Thinking a little harder about it – as I’ve been doing, being the end of this yearlong initiative – it might have been one of the better dating experiences I had in 2018.

Nothing good or pleasant stuck out, sure…conversely, nothing awful kept my experience with him fresh in my mind.

No tardiness or flakiness about getting together.

Not a sexual misadventure.

No ghosting.

Just neutral.

So, here’s to the unmemorable dude that was probably my best date of the year!

Like I mentioned, though, being the year end, I had been giving some thought to my 2018 writing initiative.

Did I “meet” my goal? Sure. I can average my $20 dating experiences in order to meet my 1/month goal. Some months were “feast” and others “famine”, so I could have been more consistent in channeling content.

Strangely, that consistency thread kept coming back in my ruminations. As did the question, “Do I want to continue this theme into 2019?”

I’m blaming this percolation of thought for ending my New Years Eve watching Rom-Coms until 2:30 AM. Turns out, my mild night was the known wildest – by virtue of latest bedtime – of my friends.

Yay, me!

It actually started out with the intent to be lame. I’d thrown a personal gauntlet down as I left my parents after my Christmas visit: Dry Week.

They didn’t believe it.

Not sure that I did, either, I threw my discretionary money into my debt-abyss, saving $100 for spending money.

Just not enough to get into any real trouble.

Forced success!

Except

The Silver Fox wasn’t having it.

Sallory was coming to town for a tweener holiday party a friend of hers – and frenemy of The Fox and I – was throwing. His annual is a post-Christmas/pre-NYE party on the 30th. She wanted to meet for a drink before, and I’ve been terrible about making it to Happy Hour on her recent visits.

For his part, the Silver Fox wanted to make dinner on the 31st and then go to Tanner Creek Tavern for a low-key drink. Since they were closing at 11, he was entertaining the notion of closing the place.

Fate stepped in to help my decision making: the hundred I’d set aside for incidentals until my post-NYE midweek payday evaporated overnight in the form of an auto-pay I’d set up on my renters insurance coming due. Alright, well…good to have that paid up again. I’ll bet I forget again next year, too, but I’m betting my coffers will be in better shape to absorb that surprise.

Still, The Fox just wasn’t entertaining my lameness. He offers to buy and I try on an exasperated acquiescence.

That’s how I came to have some free time on New Years Eve 2018 to think about my writing goals for the past and upcoming years.

Of course, I didn’t realize it initially. I sat on my couch, TV off and remote in hand, debating just going to bed. I’d had two glasses of wine at dinner and one at the bar, I had enough alcohol on board to ease me off to Nod.

Deciding that the midnight revelries would just wake me up, I decided to wait it out. I put on the first movie in my Amazon queue without thinking much of it: Hitch.

Great. I enjoyed this movie in the theater and figured it was a good way to pass the time.

Now, once it hit me that this was a chick flick, my writing ruminations kicked back in. Those resurging questions made me reconsider whether three glasses of wine over five hours was actually enough.

I opened a throw away bottle of Robert Mondavi’s off brand Cab Sauv that I’ve had for about four years. I’d been saving it to serve up as a second bottle some night.

Since that opportunity had yet to present itself – and since I fully expected to be pouring most of this into my “cooking wine” bottle, I went for it. With a nice, healthy pour and settled back into Will Smith helping the fat guy get the pretty girl.

I raised my glass to the TV and toasted, “Screw you asocial media!” and watched the show about a dating doctor for men. My mind was engaged in a little back-burner thought exercise about deleting OKStupid since it had yielded only two in-person dates over 12 months.

More on that later, but key word: moron.

Hitch ended with me laughing and crying and possessing an empty glass. Amazon was suggesting a movie about a one night stand that lasts two nights after a blizzard shuts down NYC.

Well, three-quarters of a bottle ain’t gonna fit into my cooking wine

…armed with a second glass, I start the movie.

I didn’t expect this to hold my attention, and it didn’t. It was entertaining enough – in a disastrous type of way – but as its premise was based on two people meeting for a one night stand off a hookup site, I found my back-burner thoughts creeping to the forefront.

I distractedly opened up my vintage hookup site, just to see what was happening nearby. Note, I said “site”, not “app”…I tell myself that using an actual website is somehow better than using the apps I so vocally despise.

Hey, I haven’t gotten laid on a national holiday since the post-Rib romp of Thanksgiving…2013?

What could possibly go wrong, right?

Nothing major, but it does turn out that the closest gay guy to me is just 200 feet away…basically in the hotel whose bar I had left at 11 PM. It also happened to be an overly precious guy I nailed a couple of times while living in Shittatle.

I think he didn’t like that I didn’t feel as fortunate that he’d graced my bedsheets as he apparently thought I should. We probably both wrote that off as a character flaw and just never evered each other again.

Tonight wasn’t going to be an exception to that, certainly, but I kinda hoped he saw me next door. I was listening to our mismatched lovers on the TV as I looked out my naked living room windows, wondering if J’s hotel room window overlooked my balcony.

Karma.

I decided to polish off the bottle and focus on the movie, knowing it wasn’t good enough for me to ever come back to if I turned it off now. There was only 45 minutes left and one more good pour in the bottle, so why not?

See, it’s rhetorical reasoning like that that provides answers to the question I’m always musing on…

What could possibly go wrong?

Welp, I got back to the couch and settled into the end of the movie, unsure of exactly how our female protagonist ended up in jail…but rolling with it.

A few minutes later, my phone let me know I had a message. It was someone who thought I urgently needed to know what his butthole looks like without the benefit of even a “Hello”.

<block>

Back to the movie.

Oh, good…at the ungodly hour of 2:15 AM on January 1st, in the 2019th year of someone’s lord, someone has decided fireworks were necessary.

Someone very nearby.

Luckily, I hadn’t gone to bed.

Let’s see…an ex lovah next door, fireworks and anonymous assholes. Yeah, I think 2019 is off to a good start.

The movie’s big finish?

A New Years Eve party.

Perfect.

On that full circle happy ending moment, I drained my wine glass, shut down the TV, popped a couple of Mellies and hunkered down in bed.

What I ultimately decided on to answer my earlier “continue” question was; hell, NO! It doesn’t mean I will or won’t delete OKCupid or my throwback hookup site. Those decisions are TBD, but I’m looking at them through the stop/start/continue filter and leaning toward stopping those actions in favor of starting an unknown other.

Nor does it mean that I won’t continue to catalog any notable dating experiences under the DIO hashtag, maybe the final entry down the road will be about a great date with a guy that continues to show up.

But my immediate payoff for this thought exercise of the past week? Waking up to this suggestion from OKStupid

Really earning their nickname with that one.

Seriously? That Lost Boy is your best dating suggestion to welcome me into 2019?!?

FML

But, hey, Diezel…I got a live one you might like!

Dating Into Oblivion: Fin

Why I’m Single: #16

I am simply a fool.

An idiot, I tell you.

Not that you don’t believe me, but let me explain anyway.

I’ve always had this little niggling notion that I wasn’t as brilliant as people will allow me to let myself believe. However, it came into sharp contrast last night, shortly after encountering this while visiting my parents for the holidays.

My parents’ neighbor’s house is quasi infested with these little buggers and apparently, mom and dad get random visitors when one wants to get away from the hive for a bit.

Or is suicidal.

Kidding, mom and dad gently move them to the patio.

Mom saw this picture after I posted it to the Instagram and Facebook last night and responded in two perfectly mom-ish ways within the same breath:

1) The regular mom way: she told me there were spare toothbrushes in my bathroom drawer. This actually made me reminiscent of the “good old days” when I had game and hope, and kept a few spare toothbrushes in my bathroom cabinet for spontaneous overnight guests.

And,

2) The my mom way: she feigned a reasonably decent indignant tone while both chastising me and chuckling about the ridiculousness level of the situation.

Neither of those reasons are why I’m an idiot and a fool.

Here’s the two pieces of evidence for that argument that hit me as I responded to comments on that pic:

1) In case it’s not obvious, I am using my Dopp kit as a toothbrush holder, because laying your toothbrush on the countertop is gross, right? Well, in the background, you can see a seashell resting inside-up…on top of a toothbrush holder. That originally escaped my notice, hence my MacGyver Dopp kit version.

Idiot.

2) When mom offered me a fresh brush, I initially rejected the idea, thinking that I’ve got three. I’ll just rinse the one I brought real good and make do til I get home. I brush my teeth in the shower in the morning. It’s a habit I picked up watching My Tutor back in the…early 80s. JFC that makes me feel old. Anyway, Olivia Newton John tutors Matt Lattanzi – who later became Mister Olivia Newton John – in this show. During it, young impressionable gay me was struck by a scene where one of Matt’s (very lucky) friends was standing outside his shower talking to him while he got cleaned up after a long day of tutoring – I am fuzzy on the precise plot – and Matt’s brushing his teeth in the shower. When I became an independent adult, I adopted the same habit and via the transitive property, became as hot as Matt Lattanzi.

Presto.

I also have both a medium and firm bristled toothbrush on my bathroom counter to use at night – or as the mood strikes – depending on how my mouth feels.

This is the meat of #2 and what occurred to me while mom was enjoying pretending to not enjoy the shituation at hand:

When guys come over to my house – where I live alone – they see two toothbrushes on my vanity. I’m sure the first thought they have typically hasn’t been, “Yeah, this guy’s a weird duck…I’m sure he has another one in the shower, too!”

No, I am totally willing to believe that the first thought is that I’m lying to them about being single and a lying, cheating bastard of a boyfriend.

If only.

Told ya…I’m simply a fool.

And that’s another one of the myriad reasons I’m single.

Why I’m Single: #16

Dating Into Oblivion: episode 9

So, I met this guy.

Oh, wait…can you believe that it’s December and I’ve only managed 9 DIO entries on a goal of one per month?

I can.

And one is still in draft form. Maybe I’ll mothball it. Heck, maybe I’ll finish strong! January had four bachelors – even though they were all no shows, if I recall correctly – so I’m giving myself partial credit for that effort and saying that right now, I am at 12/12 on the year. Plus, there was my Halloweentime attempts at dating that resulted in multiple ghosts and/or false starts, so I’d put my attempts on the year closer to 14…

Still, just to goose actual in person failures – er, attempts maybe I’ll go ask out both of the cute baristas here at Nossa Familia and then go shopping for a New Years Eve outfit.

Just kidding, I’m not going out on NYE! Way too crowded. Way too many amateurs.

I ran across our latest potential late one evening late last month while swiping left on all of the jokers OKStupid thought would be good matches for me.

Sidenote: Seriously, OKC, “opposites attract” is an irony. Stop sending me emails about guys that managed to score a 60% compatibility using your algorithm. Either they were too lazy to answer enough questions to generate a legitimate compatibility score or we aren’t compatible. I don’t need to be reminded by you that I’m a tough sell. As a matter of fact, I think there is a bar one must clear to activate a profile on OKC, but it’s ridiculously low, like answer five questions. If you’re trying to set yourself apart from hookup sites and apps, maybe raise that to 50 and set it up so that they have to answer at least five questions from each of your ethics, dating, lifestyle, sex and other buckets before they can activate a profile.

Mkay?

Thnx.

Anyway, furthering my quest to prove or disprove my Rib Theory that getting a guy fresh off the boat in your town is a solid plan, I swiped right on this guy. He’d actually mentioned in the first line of his bio that he’d just moved to Portland.

For all you readers that closely monitor the ages of the (almost, in a completely unshocking double entendres) men that I date, he is also 33, which puts him squarely in the Damn Near Old Enough to Not Be My Son category. I actually can’t even wrap my head around a scenario where someone my age has a child his age, but I know that it’s biologically possible.

I actually enjoy the heaps of shit people give me for dating younger guys. Linda Belcher refers to my dates as being “from the half-off rack”, another pretty legit double entendres since they are much younger than me but also fairly scratched and dented. Another pointed out that this new guy was “one whole year” older than Rib and then drily complimented me on my growth…they failed to take into account that Rib was merely 24 when I met him, though. He’s 32 now, so really I think I earn a prop or two for starting in with someone a third older than him at the starting line.

Feel free to take a minute to regroup after that epic rationalization. I have a lot more experience with my crazy than you do, friends. Trust me, though, I know my mental contortions can result in dizziness. Possibly nausea.

Anyway, I decided to check out this guy’s bio to see what a 94% compatibility actually looked like. He actually answered a lot of questions. Hundreds. After ascertaining that we clicked enough minimal boxes to invest, I messaged him.

So, when you say “new to town”…how long have you *really* been here?

To my surprise, I woke up to a new message from him. He’d been in town six days…and I was off to the races. We traded messages on OKC for the rest of the week and on Friday night, he started putting out – not that way, Diezel – messages that I should ask him out.

So I did.

He declined.

Little psychopath.

Just kidding. He legit had a good reason, and a bad one.

The bad reason was just lame. Not that I cared. He’d been working on his bedroom at his new apartment and all of his going out clothes were back at his hotel. Again, not that I cared how he was dressed…this is Portland, after all. Plus, I’m probably the jeans and tee-shirt guy prototype, so really, I didn’t care how he was dressed.

But on the other hand, his pod was arriving the next day, so going out the night before moving day wasn’t the optimal situation, obviously.

But when I checked in the following Monday to see how his first day on the new job had gone, our texting led to me inviting him out to try what I call the best beer in Oregon, Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack IPA. You can only get it on tap and I know the one bar in the area that always has it on tap.

It isn’t Big Legrowlski.

It’s this dive bar that I’ve gone to off and on – more on now that it’s only about ten blocks from my place – for about 20 years. It’s called Kelly’s Olympian, and it’s pretty cool. There’s motorcycles suspended from the ceiling and neon gas station and repair shop signs hung on the walls. And they always have Pallet Jack. The one time they blew a keg while I was there, they had a back up keg to put on.

Anyway, he accepted the offer. Not only did he accept, he countered with meeting up the following day. I had been trying to veil my invitation to weeknight drinking with a drink – or two, as it happened – with the weekly cubicle dweller holiday known as Hump Day. But it’s not like I had anything else going on a Tuesday night, so game on!

Of course, Tuesday started five days of rain. The biblical type, too. Our first real inclement weather of the Fall season.

Talk about a harbinger.

But we each arrived, a little damper for the pedestrian transit. Turned out, he liked the beer…which didn’t surprise me a bit. We chatted comfortably for a couple hours and each enjoyed two Pallet Jacks.

Our conversation was alternately serious and fun, not a bad way to get acquainted. He talked about not assuming others’ intentions, but seeking to understand before reaching a conclusion. I really like this challenge. I call it a challenge because I also struggle to live that ideal. It’s hard. I’ve been a wise-cracking asshole for so long that it’s hard for me to let people prove themselves before judging their intent.

Actually, if the Myers-Briggs personality tests are to be believed, I’m a perceiver not a judger.

Following Myers-Briggs down their rabbit hole, I’m an EFNP.

Go ahead, look.

The long and short of it is that I’m a dating nightmare. Not to foreshadow, but that intuitive versus sensor bucket really works against me.

One of the other conversations we had came up when I mentioned that I’d been single following Rib for four years, roughly the same length we were together. I think he had assumed that it was a bad break up. I’d said something about still seeking a successful relationship. I clarified that Rib and I still enjoy a very nice friendship, a success in its own right. Then he said something that I found really interesting.

Why do people think of a relationship ending as a failure? If you tell someone you were in a rock band for twenty years, they’ll probably think that you were pretty successful musician. Why is it different for relationships?

Ok, that flipped a mental table. I really enjoyed that analogy.

Maybe we were talking about his parents or the Silver Fox, who were each divorced after decades of marriage. Memories get a little fuzzy midway through a second beer for me.

My only counterpoint was that maybe it’s in how it ends. Someone in a rock band for two decades is likely left with a moderate amount of wealth. If they truly were successful. People leaving a marriage after two decades are left with an intimacy vacuum.

At the very least.

Money doesn’t fill a void like that.

Still, I did enjoy the analogy.

We parted, in a drizzle. He hugged me and kissed my cheek – I’m not usually one for kissing on the first date. If we only end up friends, now I’ve kissed a friend, and that’s not a usual behavior of mine. So, the kiss on the cheek was an unexpected surprise.

He promised to send me his number on OKC so we could get together again and then said I didn’t have to walk him to his bus stop. He’d demurred on both of my offers to pick him up at his office for our date, so I was forming the opinion that he was either reserved or independent and wanting to find his own way versus being shown. I actually hadn’t intended to offer to walk him when I asked him where his stop was. I was trying to figure out if we were heading the same direction. When he told me where he was heading, I said I was heading the opposite way and said good night.

When I turned in for bed that night, I sent him a thank you message on OKC while resisting the urge to assume anything about how he didn’t use his 20 minute bus ride to send me his number. My message was really just a way to indicate that I’m not one of those dating game types that thinks waiting X days after a date is the cool way to date.

He responded pretty much immediately.

I pushed down the impulse to label his behavior and replied that I’d shoot him a text at a more reasonable hour and clicked off my nightstand lamp.

The next day we texted a lil bit.

The next day, I offered to take him out for a little bit riskier drink. The dive bar happy hour date had come in right at my $20 first date limit. Well, excluding gratuity. My second date idea was Portland City Grill in Portland’s tallest building – actually, there might be a taller structure now. Regardless, it has views like this

…from about 30 floors over Portland, which I think any newcomer would surely appreciate. That said, this ain’t no $20 date. He had said that he liked martinis, particularly, real martinis with vermouth, dirty and with onions instead of olives. A twist in the summer versus onions.

We laughed at how people who made martinis without even a trace of vermouth were just drinking vodka, but I made note of the order. I’m attentive like that, despite how I struggle with how ordering a date’s drink could be misconstrued and #metoo-ed.

Anyway, Portland City Grill’s cocktails are probably $12-15 each, so…yeah, this wasn’t a $20 date.

He suggested the following day, Friday. Yesterday. I agreed, which was followed up by him offering to wait til early next week to avoid the crowds I loathe so much. I found that kind, and attentive in its own right but committed to perseverance.

It was just one drink, after all. I wouldn’t mind two, but I was cognizant of the fact that he was both coming from work and had mentioned he was a lightweight. My intention was neither to pour him onto a bus nor end up with him at my place…so, probably just one drink.

I sent him a confirmation text at noon-ish the next day to make sure we were still on for that evening.

He responded immediately with

Can we please reschedule for Monday?

Turns out that some co-workers were going out after work and invited him along. Setting aside my grumpy old man-ness, I told him we could reschedule and to go get his networking on.

He read it immediately, but didn’t respond.

Why do people leave or turn on read receipts for their texts? Seriously, the only reasons I can think of are that they are clueless that they are on or it’s so you know they’re blowing you off.

Anyway, this is where being an intuitive type works against me: I’m prone to noticing patterns.

It was one thing to reschedule. It was another to not say “thanks for understanding” or even “sorry” when he did so.

I’d enjoyed meeting this guy. He and I were a good match according to the folks that wrote the OKStupid algorithm. He was fun to talk to, seemed to have some good life experiences under his belt and just engaging.

That said, I’d decided not to write this until today so that we’d have two dates under our belts and I’d have an idea how I felt about him. What direction I hoped this to go in. You see, algorithms aside, he’s an attractive guy…but hairy.

Generally, I’m attracted to smooth guys. I’m getting past guys that aren’t clean shaven, I live in hipster-ville, after all. But I haven’t really gotten into being attracted to guys with chest hair. And this fella is a hairy motherfucker. But, I am challenging myself to set aside that immediate spark qualifier that I’ve relied upon when meeting people. Look where it’s gotten me, after all.

Yet, here I am…Saturday. The day I intended to write this entry, if for no other reason than my December output has been meager. Only, I hadn’t successfully crossed my two date threshold.

Since it seemed like a pretty arbitrary goal – two dates – I decided to write this entry anyway. As I’m sitting at Nossa, sipping my coffee and tapping this out, I jump over to OKC to double-check a quote from our messages there.

He’s on.

Now, I can’t fully explain why this wrankled me so. I think it was because he’d never thanked or apologized to me for post-poning on me yesterday.

So, I just sent him a text message.

Your actions are giving me a “not interested” vibe.

I know that this is more than likely to offend someone, in the case that they aren’t interested and aren’t being clear. On the other hand, if it’s not intentional, it at least opens the door to conversation about how I ended up at that…perception.

Being a native Portlander, I take a lot of guff for our reputation for being passive-aggressive. I offset this through my actions, namely: being direct in my communication.

Of course he responds immediately.

Now he chooses to be in the moment. Surprising no one he says he had fun and would like to be my friend.

Oddly, he still didn’t apologize that I felt that way or take any accountability for how I’d gotten that hint. My least favorite language, right there: hint.

One of the patterns this intuitive person tends to recognize is that pattern where people fail to accept responsibility for their actions. I’m responsible for my feelings, and try to be equally responsible for my actions…so expecting others to acknowledge their own actions and their fallout seems pretty fair to me. I’m also not one who is going to get all butt-hurt about someone makes me feel. I gave them the power to make me feel hurt, I can easily take it away.

Something, Felicia

What he didn’t know in his offer of friendship – genuine or simply another sentence in hintonese – was that I expect more of my friends than my lovers. Relationships come and go – successful, as he frames them, or not – but people I call friend are in my life indefinitely. We may not see each other every day or every week. I’ve some friends I only see once a year, but we know each other and when I see them, it seems like yesterday.

I told him his actions yesterday didn’t seem like he’d make a good friend for me. After explaining why, I said

If you’ve got the balls to not be offended by that, then the <ahem> ball is in your proverbial court.

He texted me back, but I’m not in any hurry to read it. So far today, his texts have shown that he’s more interested in preserving the perception that he’s a good guy versus actually – y’know – being one.

If he wants to show me he’s someone else versus another typical lost boy, he’ll put some effort into it.

In the meantime, this is me…not holding my breath.

Dating Into Oblivion: episode 9

Dating Into Oblivion ep5

The Masseur

It won’t surprise longtime friends – or readers, for that matter – that I was attracted to my massage therapist.

This goes back a couple of years. I’d just moved back to Portland but had not yet given up going to the gym, despite my cascading physical degeneration.

The offset to the injuries wasn’t restraint, it was massage! This was in my pre-acupuncture days. I’d go every two weeks, occasionally treating myself in an off week.

It took me a while of trial and error to find a guy here. I’d resigned myself to joining Massage Envy up in Seattle, but the closest one to me here in Portland was about 35 blocks and one river away, and I just couldn’t get there. I mean, physically, I could. It was mentally that I couldn’t get there. It’s too far to walk, really, and I think people who overdo it on fragrances and take public transportation are the devil’s dingleberries, so I couldn’t be that guy that got on a bus or train smelling like I’d just had sex with a coconut. So…I had to make other arrangements.

You remember Columbia House?

Yeah, you want to know what’s harder to quit than that? Massage Envy. I think my last conversation with them included the words, “Do not make me come up there!”

Anyway, I find this freelancer that works well with what I need and is actually affordable enough for me to see him every two weeks. Perfect!

As is my habit, I became attracted to him. I don’t know what it is about me – yes, I do – but I can fall in love with just about any guy in a service industry job: baristas, waiters, bartenders…remember Richard? Yeah. It’s a curse.

But I was surprised in this particular case, since it wasn’t an instant attraction and it wasn’t an attraction that developed over the course of me having nothing else to look at as I swilled a beer or two. This was a massage, most of my time was spent face down and when I wasn’t, my eyes were closed. So, no. This wasn’t a physical attraction, strictly speaking.

Now, I don’t want to shock anyone, but I’m kind of a chatter box.

Right?!? So imagine me laying there, head jammed into a horseshoe shaped headrest just chattering away like my jaw isn’t restricted at all. We pretty much talked throughout every session.

That’s what got me.

He was such a good guy. That’s what attracted me to him. How reasonable of me.

Another thing that won’t surprise anyone that knows me, is that I didn’t act on this attraction.

Why, you justifiably ask?

Well, if I’m going to be reasonable in my attraction, not falling for a pretty face but a good human instead…you know I’m going to inject that with my more predictable weirdness.

There are two reasons I didn’t act on my attraction:

First, I really don’t want to be the creepy guy that hits on people in their workplace. Fair enough, right?

Second, though – and I think this is less reasonable than it is neurotic – is Reason I’m Single #74…I don’t want to see my friends naked. Ditto, my friends seeing me naked.

(Sorry, Roger!)

I’m not moving from a clinical nudity scenario into a frivolous situation like dating or recreational sex. That’s a weird boundary I struggle to cross. As a matter of fact, I ran into this guy on the street a few times while I was seeing him professionally and was dependably awkward.

Outside what turned out to be our mutual coffee shop.

Well, you look like you’re on your way somewhere, so I won’t keep ya!

Because the presence of a paper coffee cup clearly implies he doesn’t have time to stand around and talk to me.

The other time I ran into him was at a First Thursday. It’s the monthly art walk in the Pearl District. As a Pearl District resident, I try to avoid it at all costs, but it usually sneaks up on me.

In one such unguarded moment, I ran into Brian on the street and we made casual hellos before I said,

Well, I don’t want to keep you from your friend

…and gestured to the unidentified woman standing a few feet away.

“Oh, that’s just my sister!”

“I heard that,” his sister deadpanned.

“We were just going for a drink, want to join us?”

Oh, no…you go. I wouldn’t want to take time away from your sister!

Because I’m so polite and concerned with a stranger’s vacation experience.

Flash forward to this past Spring. I’ve run into him randomly on the street again while wandering around downtown. Having discontinued our therapeutic relationship when he left town on the ground of vague family matters, it had been at least 18 months since I’d seen him.

Turned out, the reason he’d left town was he had somehow ended up with custody of his child – I can’t remember why because my mind was reeling over how I’d missed this little nugget of personal information. Usually, I hear “kids” from a guy and see this in my head

But I guess that mental imagery also prevents this information from lodging into long term memory,

I tuned back in somewhere around he’s “back in town and practicing again” along with an invite to come back and see him. I explained that I was doing acupuncture nowadays and without missing a beat, this smooth operator suggested we grab a coffee.

Apparently, he had some time to kill before he picked up his…daughter?

Yeah, I wanna say daughter.

Anyway, I talked myself into it – the whole dating a guy with kids thing – because I really liked him.

Of course, it was all academic anyway.

We walked and drank coffee and then ended up at my place. We were in the Park Blocks and I really had to pee!

Friggin’ coffee!

I ran up to my place and when I came out of the bathroom, all I saw was his bracelet on my closed bedroom door. Myrtle likes to spend time on my bed, so I usually leave the door open.

I saw a lot more when I opened the door.

I thought I should level the playing field, since I’ve seen you naked…

He didn’t even roll onto his back to talk, just cocked his chin over his shoulder.

“And it looks like I’ll be starting with you on your stomach this time?”, I playfully added.

Seems fair, doesn’t it? But don’t worry, you’ll definitely finish with me on my back!

This is not how I’d envisioned this cup of coffee ending. I’d like to say that I reluctantly joined him, but that wasn’t the case.

I did reluctantly let him out of my bed when he reminded me later that he had to go get his…still going with daughter. My reluctance was borne from a general disease with my own experiences in sleeping with people so soon after meeting.

I managed to not say, “Call me”, as I closed the door. But he did volunteer it…not that I felt any better hearing it. There was a brief internal optimistic struggle when I saw his bracelet was still on my bedroom door handle.

Gotta love the Leave Behind.

Don’t worry, you didn’t miss me announcing that I was no longer single. He never did call. Which, really…that’s a good thing. It saved me having to break up with him because of his…I still wanna say daughter.

News flash: I don’t like to share my toys.

Dating Into Oblivion ep5

No Regrets

Writing about my good old times at The Old and The New Old Lompocs yesterday reminded me of this little nugget of a story languishing in draft-land from waaaaay back.

I’d like to say it was from a few months back, when I was working at the airport – PDX…maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s the best airport in the universe, at least according to travelers in the United States.

Six years running…no big deal.

They’ve got, like, carpet…and a clock.

Anyway, today – because this is my life and this is the way it always “just so happens” in my life – just so happens to be my 7 month anniversary of telling the company I worked for at PDX that it wasn’t me, it was them. So, this story probably starts a full year back.

Well, the draft starts a year back. The story itself? Yup, a century ago.

You see, when I wasn’t hanging out, wiling away my free time lusting over Richard, I was usually hanging out with my buddy No Regrets. Even then, I was a social prowler versus staying home. I didn’t even have a health hazard of a cat to keep me away from home. It’s kind of just how I’m built.

No Regrets was the manager of the store next to mine, so we became acquainted fairly easily. Eventually, we bonded over shared stories of I-5 shoplifting rings and after that, became friends.

Well, last year, I was in the B concourse store doing something – something that was likely Captain Can’t’s responsibility…but he, y’know…couldn’t – and who should happen by but my old pal!

Why do I call him No Regrets? Well, it’s a riff on his last name, mainly. But also, this guy was idling through or just out of so many programs when we met. These programs have a great benefit for participants – many, obviously – but for No Regrets, the main takeaway seemed to be overcoming the shame and stigma around his various struggles and being able to normalize the impulses he experienced in recovery.

Y’know, he had no regrets. Without the problems he’d overcome, he wouldn’t have become the fuller functioning person I met.

I know. Anyone in recovery hates how I just short handed that, but…here we are.

The result for me was bearing witness to private thoughts – or what many people would keep private – and stories of how he got to where he got before entering recovery. Oddly, they were rather entertaining, in a cautionary tale type of way. No Regrets’ story telling style was just rather engaging, too. He had a story teller’s voice.

Anyway, we chatted at the airport for a few, just caught up ever so briefly before he had to catch his plane. But that brief download was still so chockablock full of nostalgia for our time together a couple decades ago.

Because when I wasn’t at The Old Lompoc swilling beer, I was probably with No Regrets a few blocks away for some totally unneeded late night caffeine. Let’s see, if Lompoc was at 23rd and Savior, our hangout – CoffeeTime – was at…21st and Irving?

Yeah. 21st and Irving. I just remembered that my crashpad after moving back to PDX was right around the corner at 19th and Irving…that was a nice, warm welcome home! So when I say these hangouts were a few blocks away, 8 over, 2 up…yeah, not too far at all. Gotta love how small town-y Portland can feel!

One of his many Anons being the big A, we met at his favorite nighttime hangout. It was new to me and reminded me of the subterranean Catskeller below the student union in college, so many little twisty corners that created books for a small study table or old sofa for reading and chatting in semi-soon-to-be-necking privacy.

I loved it immediately.

Plus, there were a lot of cute, young, student body types. Guy Candy, if you will. Of course, one of No Regrets’ other Anons was S – Sex, if you didn’t get that one – he openly commented on the guy candy we were immersed in.

Look at that guy. You know he’s not wearing any underwear under his sweats, when he gets up again you can totally see his big dick flipping around.

Or,

Check out the size of those Chucks. You know that scrawny guy is packing a big, floppy dick.

A lot of his therapeutic appreciations involved genitals of the big, floppy type.

Like I complained. He amused me.

Anyway, it was here, at this time in my life – these late night chats with No Regrets – that I really learned to be self reflective. It was pre-Sacha – because he shut friendship with other gay guys down right quick – and I was new to town, not dating.

The way he talked about his struggles led me to ask questions like, “How does Sex Addiction work with dating?”

Poorly, mostly.

Was his humorous response to let me know I didn’t have to be scared to ask personal questions.

No, but seriously…not that well. But once you get into the program, they don’t want you dating anyone for at least the first year. No distractions. After the first steps are accomplished, the guideline is “If you can keep a plant alive for a year, you can date”.

“Oooh…I’m not sure I get the plant thing, but you’re…”

On my second plant.

He was only kidding, but this self-effacing wit definitely resonated with me. It was similar to my own style.

So one night, I whacked him over the head with the big, floppy part of a passerby and buried him in Forest Park.

I just love that place.

I joke.

If I recall the details of the program correctly, keeping a plant alive for a year served the dual purpose of putting someone else’s needs above your own and not letting your personal issues derail a relationship and actually being able to provide the essential support they need to thrive.

Dead plant = fail, right?

But it made sense. It got that it was a big leap from watering and fertilizing a plant to having a relationship, but the whole focus on knowing yourself before you get to know someone else and become a part of their well being was quite a takeaway from these talks.

Again, making enemies of any reader that is in any recovery program.

But thinking on these inadvertent nuggets of wisdom he brought to CoffeeTime helped me to formulate my own code when it came to dating. Namely: taking time between relationships.

I’d moved to Portland with only two relationships of any length under my belt – at 28…how pathetic, right? Let’s ignore the fact that I’ve only doubled that result in the next half-ish of my life, shall we? But I had a natural reluctance to just swing from one relationship to the next, as a monkey does with tree branches.

This helped me to define that habit or ritual of mine.

For the record, not all of his stories were about shoplifters or his life in Whatever Anonymous. Sometimes he’d tell stories about his completely strange family and growing up surrounded by mentally unwell or abusive people.

His brother was textbook crazy…I want to say schizophrenia+. But the poor kid was terrified from the inside everyday. It had to be hell being him and it didn’t sound like being around him was any picnic, either.

But, lemonade, right?

No Regrets told me about this conversation he’d had with his brother one day. He’d asked him how his day was. Surprisingly, the day had been relatively uneventful, which was a rare occasion for his brother.

Until I was walking home from the bus and the man across the street started shooting his Sex Rays at me.

…and then he just calmly continued on with telling the events of his day.

No Regrets sees my eyebrows shoot up and my mouth form a tight little circle. In response, he pulls his head down and to the left as he raises that shoulder to meet it in his version of a shrug, mimics my eyebrow rockets and half lets out a guffaw as if to say, “That’s bound to happen if you walk around long enough”.

Sex Rays?!?”, I demand.

Yup. I mean, what are ya gonna do? And it didn’t even register as more than a nuisance!

“Like a footnote in his day?”

Basically. I mean, this kid loses it over toilet paper being hung the wrong way,

“Shut up.”

but Sex Rays don’t bother him at all.

We chuckled at that for quite a while that night while I grilled him on details, knowing that he’d want to make sure his bro was truly ok. I wish I could remember the conversation better, suffice it to say, there was some frustration on his bother’s part, I just can’t remember it.

But we did get some miles out of that turned phrase. Instead of worrying about what was big and/or floppy, we’d say something like,

I’d like to shoot my Sex Rays at that!

Y’know, lighthearted nonsense.

Anyway, flash forward a year or two, Sacha is in the picture, No Regrets is out. We’d still managed occasional coffees while we worked next door to each other, but eventually, I got transferred across town and then he moved to NorCal and we completely lost touch in the pre-LinkedIn world we were trapped in.

Flash forward another few years and Sacha took off on me. I fell apart and then I fell back on the introspection I had learned from No Regrets and settled in to figuring out who I was as a single person again so that I didn’t subject a potential new mate to the damage of Sacha.

I’m sorry, not damage. Trauma? Scars? It’s just not quite right…ideally, anything that makes him sound the least bit responsible for his actions in a relationship makes him want to burn the world down, so let’s give his “At Least I Have A Friggin Glass” Google alert a treat and call it the Wrath of Sacha.

Anyway, I didn’t want to subject a new boyfriend to that particular STD, so I was single for a long damn time.

So long that I was living in Seattle the next time I found myself dating. Either work transferred me or I was single so long, the subduction zone I live in has crushed the distance between Portland and Seattle.

Who’s to really say for sure?

But a funny thing happened in between relationships.

My one job moved me to Seattle and then ended altogether a year-ish later. I’d gone to work in a crashpad of a job at Bed, Bath and Beyond. About 18 months later, I was recruited away by a customer who worked for Sur la Table.

When I was talking to some of my team about where I was going to, one of my associates – who never said anything – chimes in with,

Oh, yeah…my uncle is a District Manager for them in California.

Foreshadowing

“Well, there’s a big manager’s meeting here in Seattle (the company’s corporate HQ) so maybe I’ll meet him!”

Yup.

His uncle was No friggin Regrets.

I’m on the left, obviously.

It had been ten years since we’d first met. But we fell into an amazing and immediately comfortable rapport.

Turns out that was a good thing, since a couple years later, he got promoted and became my boss’ boss. I liked him, her…I was gonna enjoy watching this. In his many Anon learning experiences, he’d become a fan of being his genuine self. My boss…a jackhammer couldn’t reach an authentic level in her.

She was so bad that when I was with her and she’d introduce me to someone, she’d always work in an, “Oh, I love your scarf!” type compliment. I’d just stand behind her and make these little gestures

So, that was therapeutic to watch, but eventually I got recruited away and at some point – after our company sold itself into a Venture Capital form of sex slavery – he got sacrificed and we lost touch again.

Let’s see…this started in ’96. We met up again in ’06 and this last airport meeting was either in late ’16 or ’17…I really think it was ’17, but now that I type that out, I really hope this draft was older than I think.

I think it was actually. It was waaaaay down there.

But it’s funny, regardless. People come into your life for a reason. You may never know what that reason is, or that reason might simply be some low grade companionship.

But every now and then – especially if you’re an introspective S.O.B. like me that can go down for days on the couch – you realize that people you met 20 years ago and lost touch with long ago are still informing your decisions today with the fingerprint they left on you.

OK, see? I tried to just organically wrap this up with something uplifting and I typed that “.” and my inner lech whispered, “Yeah, you tell us about the fingerprint that Sex Addict left on you…”

I swear, Hannibal Lecter must have been my nanny.

Now that I realize my mistake, I know I should have tried to throw my introspection about No Regrets back to my Highlander reference earlier…because

Nonetheless, fingerprint analogy notwithstanding, you just never know who you’re going to meet that going to give you strength or joy later in life. When they show up – mentally or physically – it’s a fantastic leveling device against the daily onslaught of crushing minutia. You gotta take a second to enjoy that and toss out a thank you to the mysterious universe that keeps these people drifting through your consciousness.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I should reach out and see where he landed after Sur la Table. Maybe this time I could intentionally hitch my work wagon to him.

Hmmm…standby.

No Regrets